J003-Content-Ransomware-Reloaded_SQEarlier this month, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a major hospital in California, fell victim to ransomware that effectively locked up all their data for several days. Ultimately, they paid the ransom, approximately $17,000, to obtain the decryption keys and recover their data. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and there are many things that business can do to prevent falling victim to malware such as ransomware, or at least to recover from it without paying up.

Implementing these at an enterprise may cost significantly, but when you factor the protracted downtime caused by loss of access to data, the loss of reputation, and the costs of ongoing damage control, victims may spend orders of magnitude more to recover from an incident than to prevent it. Here’s what you should do to avoid finding your own business in this same situation.

Prevention

There are some basic precautions that, when implemented completely and without exception, could prevent ransomware or any other kind of malware from affecting your business.

  • Ensure antimalware software is running on every system.
  • Scan all email attachments.
  • Scan all external media.
  • Use web filtering software to scan all downloads from the Internet.
  • Do not allow users to operate with administrative privileges on their workstations.
  • Ensure all systems are fully patched at all times.

Recovery

Should you fall victim to ransomware despite all your efforts to avoid that happening, here’s what you should have in place to recover without paying the ransom.

  • Ensuring that you have backups of all critical data, created on a regular basis.
  • Keep the backups offline and inaccessible from the primary systems.

If these backups exist, they should be untouched by any malware. You can wipe the systems to ensure they are clean, reinstall and patch your systems, then restore data from the backups and be back in operations quickly, and quietly.

Should you pay up if you fall victim to ransomware? That’s a decision that you hopefully never have to make for yourself. Ensuring you protect yourself and your systems from malware, whilst having a solid Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Plan that includes offsite and offline backups, are good technical insurance efforts that can minimize the chances you will ever be faced with the same decisions as Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.